Teams & Conferences

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 6 Clemson Tigers

2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 6 Clemson Tigers


The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Clemson Tigers


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No. 6: 2017 Prespring Rankings: Clemson Tigers

Clemson Tigers Prespring Status

All Clemson did over the last two seasons was win a national title, come really close to winning another, and turn into a superpower under head coach Dabo Swinney.

Now the Tigers have to keep it all going in a stronger ACC with Louisville still very, very good and Florida State as loaded as ever – and that’s just in the Atlantic Division. But Swinney proved in the past he could reload despite seemingly insurmountable personnel losses, and he and his staff have done enough to show that Clemson should stay in the national title equation for a long, long time.

The defense should be a killer again with seven strong starters returning, but the offense has to replace six starters – a few of them historical greats. It’s asking a whole lot to keep up the production after finishing 12th in the nation in total offense without …

Clemson Tigers Biggest Issue

Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett. Of course Clemson has become a talent factory, but losing the three top receivers – including one of the top NFL prospects in Williams, and a killer pass-catching tight end in Leggett – and the slippery-smooth Gallman hurts. And, of course, forget about finding a quarterback who can step in and simply replace Watson. Clemson has plenty of talents and options to fill the positions, but there’s no national championship last year without these five skill stars.

However …

Clemson Tigers Biggest Positive

The running back situation isn’t bad. Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, and national title legend Hunter Renfrow are back in the receiving corps, and as sacrilegious as it sounds, new QB recruit Hunter Johnson might have even more pro upside than Deshaun … okay, that’s a stretch at the immediate moment. But Johnson is going to eventually be really, really good, even if he doesn’t win the starting gig right away. The biggest positive, though, is on the other side of the ball.

The defensive front loses Scott Pagano – he’s transferring – and tone-setter Carlos Watkins at tackle, but ends Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell, along with Dexter Lawrence in the interior, form the nucleus to what could be the nation’s top front four. Four of the top six tacklers return, the linebacking pair of Kendall Joseph and Dorian O’Daniel is strong to build around, and the secondary will be excellent despite the loss of CB Codrea Tankersley and S Jadar Johnson.

Really, Why Are The Clemson Tigers Ranked Here?

Don’t sleep on how good Clemson will be. The defense might be able to carry things until the offense finds the right parts to the puzzle, but those offensive losses are massive. Is Kelly Bryant ready to take over for Watson and be almost as good? If so, there might not be any sort of slip.

The Tigers can still be amazing, and not be quite good enough to win the national title. That might change, though – the College Football Playoff part – if the Bryant – or recruit Hunter Johnson – and the quarterback play is terrific right away.